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Full text of "My Country And My People"

SOCIAL    AND    POLITICAL    LIFE            2OI

Here we have not only a conception of equality that is almost
Western, but we have a type of thinking that strikes me as
being most un-Ghinese. It is strange that, in contrast to the
Confucianist dictum that "courtesy should not be extended to
the commoners and punishment should not be served up to the
lords/9 we have here a legalist who says that we should have a
"law that does not fawn upon the mighty, and statutes that
should be applied rigidly, so that wherever the law applies,
the clever will submit and the powerful will not protest, the
nobility will not be exempted from punishment and rewards
will not go over the heads of the humble." Hanfeitse con-
ceived of a law "before which the high and the low, the clever
ones and the stupid ones shall stand equal." He pushed the
idea of a mechanistic rule of the law so far that he believed it
would not be necessary to have wise and able rulers—a
mechanistic notion which is totally un-Chinese.

Hence the Taoistic element in his system that "the king
should do nothing." The king should do nothing, because he
saw the kings could not do anything anyway, as the average
run of kings goes, and there should be a machinery of govern-
ment running so justly and perfectly that it does not matter
whether we have good or bad rulers. The king, therefore,
becomes a figurehead, as in the modern constitutional govern-
ment. The English people have a king to lay foundation stones
and christen ships and blight people, but it is entirely unimpor-
tant to the nation whether they have a good or bad king, an
intelligent king or a comparatively mediocre king. The
system should run of itself. That in essence is the theory of
do-nothingism concerning the king, as interpreted by Hanfeitse
and practised also with great success in England.

It is a queer irony of fate that the good old schoolteacher
Confucius should ever be called a political thinker, and that
his moral molly-coddle stuff should ever be honoured with the
name of a "political" theory. The idea of a government by
virtue and by benevolent rulers is so fantastic that it cannot
deceive a college sophomore. One might just as well regulate
motor traffic on Broadway by trusting to the drivers* spon-
taneous courtesy, instead of by a system of red and green lights.
And any thinking student of Chinese history should have